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When I read through the journals I have kept sporadically throughout my life, I can see how acknowledging that life is hard helps me survive and overcome obstacles. It’s not just me; it’s also people I work with, people I coach, and friends from all walks of life. My favorite philosopher Lao Tzu wrote, “The great Way is easy, yet people prefer the side path. Stay centered within the Way.” It seems to me these days that the easy way is no longer an option for us: it is an imperative.
It is one of the primary beliefs that helped you gut it out through school subjects you hated, your soul-vampire of a job, and the years when your children, your partner, and your parents all depended on you. 2000 years ago, Jesus supposedly said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The Buddha tried a life of pain and self-denial, then declared that it was not enlightenment and chose an easier path.
It was intoxicating, textbook romance; Richard Curtis himself couldn’t have written it better.
On our second date he hired a chef to cook us Coquille St Jacques at his Kensington townhouse (I had once mentioned it was the best thing I’d ever eaten), and on our third date he took me on safari to Africa.
It may mean that the everyday labors of our lives are being facilitated by something that is teaching us to use our striving, tenacity, and grit to do things so huge and beautiful that they have never been possible before. And, the strength I gained gutting it through the hard parts of life is now free to flow into tasks that have one common purpose: to make things easier for others.
Do this for me: This month, every time you set out to do any task, ask yourself, “Is there an easier way?
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I met Matthew*, managing director of a global tech company, at a black-tie charity party I’d been sent to attend by my boss.
Half a million search-results later, I realised this guy was A Big Deal.
And the focus with which he’d pursued career success was now being trained on me – he’d texted to ask me out before I’d even opened my front door.
I had mentally written the evening off – the cool Roksanda cocktail dress I’d borrowed was wasted on the table full of dull, grey, middle-aged corporate donors.
Then, suddenly, he strode in, two hours late and completely unapologetic.
We just ate our first batch of potatoes, a small miracle that required virtually no effort on our part. At least a dozen people, over this past month, have asked me for coaching because certain tasks had become so easy they feared they were doing something wrong. I think that a wave of easiness is rising all over the world. Might small miracles happen if you simply ask the powers that be for assistance? But, unless we drop the idea “life is hard,” we can’t take advantage of the astonishing ease we have created.